Diversity and inclusion have gradually become recognized as legitimate and valuable business goals in the minds of business leaders around the country, and around the globe, over recent years. Being inclusive of a diverse workforce allows companies to understand diverse markets in which spending power is more and more equally divided among increasingly diverse populations. It also helps bring new ideas and creative problem-solving approaches to the table by providing a seat for people with a diverse range of perspectives, background and experiences.
Promoting Improved Problem Solving
The industries in the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — fields (and today this pretty much encompasses all companies) are particularly interested in promoting improved problem solving. It's at the core of what these industries do, so it's not surprising that they have a strong interest in promoting diversity and inclusion.
The challenge many of the companies in these industries face is that there is a dearth of women in these fields.
Not Just About Hiring More Women
The solution isn't as simple as hiring more women, however. In many cases, there aren't enough women with the requisite education and experience to be placed in these positions. That's because, for a variety of reasons, young girls and women don't pursue educational opportunities and careers in the STEM fields as frequently as their male counterparts. While the public sector certainly has a role in promoting diversity in the educational system, private industry has an incentive to see this happen as well.
Private Industry Stepping Up
Consider this example from a Deloitte press release. "Today, Deloitte and The Ella Project, creator of Ella the Engineer, announced the launch of a new collaborative comic book series with the goal of exposing girls to STEM in a fun and unique way. The graphic novel series features comic book character Ella solving various problems using her STEM skillset under the guidance of various Deloitte leaders, including Deloitte Chair and Consulting CEO Janet Foutty and Chief Innovation Officer Nishita Henry."
Deloitte's move isn't purely a PR stunt or a bid to get into the graphic novel business. The company understands that to achieve its own long-term diversity goals, it's important to have girls entering the STEM pipeline from an early age. And it doesn't hurt the company’s recruiting efforts if those girls associate their early interest in those fields with Deloitte.
Diversity and inclusion often require more than seeking out diverse applicants among the existing pool of candidates. Sometimes there are structural and cultural barriers preventing diverse applicants from getting into the pipeline early on. Ella the Engineer is an example of efforts by the private sector to help create a more diverse generation of future STEM candidates.
What steps could you take to pave the way toward increasing diversity—and inclusion?
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In Inclusion: STILL the Competitive Business Advantage, we continue our contributions to thought leadership on the importance of inclusion in an environment that has been roiled with new discussion—and new dissent—amid rapidly changing demographics, continually emerging technology and a global economy that is continually shifting to favor newly emerging market powerhouses. We're very gratified by the positive reviews already pouring in.